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from "magic mike" but if i need to be reached, i have my phone with me. >> i think the tooth paste is out of this tube. i think we're stuck with it. happy fourth. >> i was able to check my e-mail and come on in today. >> i love it. all right, rachel, thank you. good to see you. it is time now for the inevitable wolf blitzer who never takes a day off and always checks his blackberry. thanks for being with us. ashley, thanks very much. happening now. >> they said it was a tax, didn't they? it's a tax. of course. >> mitt romney boldly contradicting a top advisor firmly stating his position on the landmark supreme court ruling upholding president obama's health care law. is his campaign message back on track? or did he give democrats a new line of attack? plus, an unimaginable crisis unfolding right now in west virginia. hundreds of thousands of storm victims already dealing with no power, now many of them are
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dealing with no food. we're live on the ground to find out what's being done. and a state lawmaker accidentally undermining her party and her principles with the press of a button. i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room." first to a dramatic moment on the campaign trail. the presumptive republican presidential nominee, mitt romney, firmly stating his position on the u.s. supreme court's historic ruling up hodding obama care and directly contradicting what his top campaign advisor said earlier in the week. our senior congressional correspondent, dana bash, is covering romney in new hampshire on this july 4th. she caught up with him earlier in the day. how did that go, dana? >> reporter: very interesting
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answer. remember, it was a revolt against taxes imposed by the king of england that spurred this day we're celebrating today, independence day. so perhaps it is fitting that whether or not the health care mandate is a tax was the question of the day here on the campaign trail. at first the ever-disciplined mitt romney refused to answer. earlier romney taped an interview with cbs to give a carefully crafted response to a thorny question for him. whether the health insurance mandate is a tax. >> just say yes. >> i told you, take a look at it. >> reporter: but finally he gave cnn the news. >> the supreme court is the final word, right? the highest court in the land? they said it was a tax, didn't they? so it's a tax. that's what they say it is. >> reporter: the main reason the already cautious romney was especially careful here is because the gop message on the mandate is already muddled. earlier this week a top romney advisor said the candidate did not think the insurance mandate
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is a tax but rather a penalty. what democrats call it. >> the governor believes what we put in place in massachusetts was a penalty. and he disagrees with the court's ruling that the mandate was a tax. >> reporter: that enfuruated republicans in washington for imposing what they call the biggest tax in american history. democrats here shadowing romney's event didn't miss a beat. >> i think people see the president as being a strong leader standing up for his principles and moving forward. we'll let mitt romney argue with himself. >> reporter: romney's news came during a brief bit of independence day action in an otherwise quiet week with his family at their new hampshire vacation home. here comes mitt romney down the parade route. this is the kind of scene you see from politicians all over the country on july 4th. but there's nothing more important than republican presidential candidate on july 4th before election day. it's very clear watching mitt romney working this crowd.
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>> happy fourth of july, guys. >> reporter: but the large romney family, 30 counting grandchildren, hardly had the parade route to themselves. team obama was there in full force since new hampshire's four electoral votes are critical for the president's prospects for re-election. and barack obama handily won this state four years ago against john mccain. but right now polls show a dead heat between the president and mitt romney. and, wolf, that is in large part because he has one of his adopted homes here. it's one of his adopted states, i should say. and of course he was the governor of the state next door. speaking of massachusetts, we should add that one of the questions following the fact that mitt romney said that he believes the mandate is a tax, is whether or not he believes the health care mandate that he signed in massachusetts is a tax as well. in that cbs interview they released a transcript. he gave an answer, which he said
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that the supreme court actually says that when it comes to states, they don't need to require them to be called taxes to be constitutional. all i think this really sums up for us is that this is a very complicated issue and it certainly won't fit on a bumper sticker. >> are the romney folks, dana, acknowledging that what the candidate said today is very different than what eric said on monday? >> reporter: they're not, actually. they're not acknowledging that at all. they're trying to, again, explain this ironically kind of a lawyerly way. if you even look on the romney campaign website right now, they still have a quote up from one of their spokeswomen from earlier in the week slamming the president for this tax, but still saying it is a penalty, not a tax. so this is something that they're not admitting as a contradiction. they're trying to explain it, but they're trying to explain it in a very confusing way because, frankly, this is a very confusing issue.
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and it was a difficult opinion to read. >> dana, on the campaign trail in new hampshire for us. dana bash, thanks very much. let's dig a little deeper right now into all of this with the real clear politics national political reporter, eric mcpike. thanks for coming in on this july 4th. >> thank you. >> i want to play the exact clip of what he told cbs, romney today, because he's very, very precise. as you know, he's a very precise politician. listen to this. >> while i agreed with the dissent, that's taken over by the fact that the majority of the court said it's a tax and therefore it is a tax. they have spoken. there's no way around that. you can try and say you wished they'd decided a different way, but they didn't. they concluded it was a tax. that's what it is. and the american people know that president obama has broken the pledge he made. he said he wouldn't raise taxes on middle income americans. >> the obama folks, obviously the democrats, say they modelled their so-called tax on what romney did in massachusetts.
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so he now thinks it's a tax in washington, it was a tax in massachusetts presumably as well. >> well, you parse his words and he personally, his personal view is that he agrees with the dissent. i think that's key. >> the four supreme court justices who were in the minority. >> right. and his agreement is essentially deferring to the high court, which as you know, president obama has taken some heat in the past for criticizing the high court. so i think this is more about showing some respect for the supreme court. >> he is precise. it is the law of the land. the supreme court is the third branch of the u.s. government equal to the legislative and the executive branch of the u.s. government. but it does open him up now to some practical consequences in what's a complicated process called reconciliation. if he now says it's a tax, and if he's elected president of the united states, he has promised that on day one of taking office, he would move to repeal what's called obama care. and whether it's a tax or not a
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tax has very practical ramifications. >> it does because republicans in congress want to repeal this via that reconciliation process, as you said. but the important point to know -- >> the reason is because reconciliation requires 51 votes to repeal a bare majority as opposed to a filibuster, if it's not a tax, then you have to deal with a filibuster which would require 60 votes. >> but here's what hasn't been reported yet. in order to go about doing this via reconciliation, they must first pass a budget. and congress hasn't passed a budget since 2009. so what that means is republicans will need to win four senate seats in order to get 51 votes to first pass a budget before they can even start this reconciliation process to repeal health care. >> he says he's going to start that process on day one if he takes office. it's obviously going to be a difficult process to repeal it. and if president obama's re-elected, he of course could veto whatever congress imposes. then you need a two-thirds
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majority. >> so override it. >> to override it. >> exactly. >> the house keeps passing a budget, the senate has a democratic majority, doesn't pass a budget. the whole reconciliation process to begin this is what you're being told they first need to pass a budget. >> absolutely right. >> you've been on the hill. >> i was actually talking to one of mitch mcconnell's top aides yesterday and he said we are going to do this or die trying. the first thing they have to do is flip four senate seats. >> were you surprised by what romney said today? it does on the surface seem to be way different than what his senior advisor said on monday. >> i was a little surprised. but this is something mitt romney has struggled with for years. i covered him five years ago in his first run for the presidency. and i remember asking him in the fall of 2007, he said that under his health care plan, he could get every american insured within four years. i said, governor, how are you going to do that without a mandate? and he said he would implement a system of incentives and sticks so that states could deregulate
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their health insurance markets and then force all of their citizens in each of those states to get insurance. but sticks to me sounds like penalty. >> certainly does. thanks very much. >> thank you. >> erin mcpike coming in from real clear politics. appreciate it. to west virginia now. a situation so dire it's almost unimaginable in a country with as many resources as the united states. it's been five days now since those devastating storms hit, yet hundreds of thousands of people still without power. and now the food supply is starting to dwindle. here in the united states of america in the state of west virginia 3,000 people in one housing complex alone reportedly had no food for two days. brian todd is on the ground for us in the middle of all of this. brian, give us the very latest. how bad is that situation in west virginia? >> reporter: the food shortage, wolf, is continuing. and officials here are scrambling to deal with it. we just visited a shelter where they're distributing food to
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people, some nonperishable food to people who are in there who lost their power. we're going to have more on that later. we can also update you on the power outages. the latest numbers we have this afternoon are that roughly one-quarter of the customers in this state, about 270,000 of them, still without power today. it's really miserable out here. it's about 100 degrees and very humid. not typical weather in west virginia this time of year. usually it's significantly cooler. that's really a calamitous turn of events as far as nature is concerned for the people here. and, you know, a lot of complaints about the power crews just not getting to places fast enough. and not moving fast enough for the customers. well, this is what they're up against. take a look at this. our photo journalist and i are going to walk you through this downed power line situation. these cables -- obviously the oak tree snapped in half, came on to the cables, knocked out a pole, disabled it across the road. one power company official warned us when these cables are still kind of suspended like
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this, when they haven't hit the ground, they could still be energized and that's a real hazard for crews. we talked to the chairman and ceo of appalachian power. he also talked about some of the obstacles his crews are fighting against. >> our employees and contractors are out on 16-hour days in this sweltering heat. and we have to wear insulated protection. so think about it. they're in rubber suits, half of their bodies are in rubber suits for a significant part of the day in 100-degree weather. >> reporter: another obstacle they have is that in a lot of areas especially in west virginia, it's not like this. the power poles are not on roads. they're in the middle of valleys in the middle of mountains. these crews have to park somewhere, walk a long way, maybe up a steep incline, climb a tree or something to get to a downed pole, something like that. it's really tough work for them especially in the more remote areas, wolf. >> brian, i hope those lines
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behind you aren't live. i'm sure a lot of viewers seeing how close you are to those lines and they're beginning to get a little worried. >> reporter: i can tell you what we're told is -- i haven't touched any yet and i won't. but what we're told is if they're hitting the ground -- i won't touch it. we're told if they're hitting the ground, they're de-energized because they trip themselves off. but if they're suspended, there's a chance they could still be energized and you have the tree just hanging on this thing. it could snap, a pole could come down. this is what the crews are up against when they approach these areas. you have to be very, very careful. plenty of people driving and walking around here. it's pretty treacherous. and this is a scene repeated throughout the state, wolf. >> we want folks to be really, really careful out there. don't get too close to those power lines. i know you're going to have a full report in the next hour, but the food situation, this is something that troubles me deeply, as you can imagine. a lot of people hungry right now in west virginia, food
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apparently's having a tough time reaching these folks? >> reporter: well, it has, wolf. a lot of people live in very remote areas. when they got knocked out of power, they were trying to get to their local food store. those were without power too. and after maybe a day those stores had to throw out all their perishable foods. so they ran out of food quickly. a state official told me that two food banks in this state, two food banks that serve the entire state of nonperishable food, they're depleted. they're starting a food drive. trying to get people into the shelters and get food into those shelters. it's slow-going. they're mobilizing as fast as they can. it's a crisis with food and water right now. >> we'll see what the federal government is doing in the next hour. fema, the department of health and human services, brian will have a full report on that. i know folks are deeply, deeply worried. thanks very much, brian, for that report. there's one thing everybody expects on the fourth of july, but this year towns and cities all across the country are going
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without fireworks. but it may not be for the reason you think. we'll also meet a california family that rebuilt after losing everything to a wildfire. now they're worried about losing everything again. and pakistan's ambassador to the united states is in "the situation room." she's getting ready to explain what the secretary of state, hillary clinton, accomplished simply by saying one word, sorry. great shot. how did the nba become the hottest league on the planet? by building on the cisco intelligent network they're able to serve up live video, and instant replays, creating fans from berlin to beijing.
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nothing says fourth of july like fireworks, but this year they may be noticeably absent from celebrations all across the country due to a number of states desperately strapped for cash. let's bring in lisa sylvester. she's been looking into this story. you have details. what are you learning? >> hi, wolf. some fireworks shows have been canceled because of the recent storms, some because of wildfires out west. but in other towns the sky will
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not be lit up tonight because of the weak economy. we look at two cities facing the same problem. the red, white and blue bunting is out, the door of the broadway diner in red bank, new jersey, wishes patrons a happy fourth of july. but this year something is missing. >> i mean, the whole county would come here. and everyone would get together. it was like a norman rockwell picture. that's really what it was. >> reporter: val says this would have been the diner's busiest day of the year. >> it's early, but it's very, very quiet. it hurts a lot of businesses. >> reporter: red bank canceled its annual fireworks show for the first time in 53 years. officials could no longer pay for police overtime. and organizers couldn't raise enough private donations. it means children having to watch fireworks on television. >> they like stand out more. they're small on tv. but they're big like in like life. >> reporter: it's a sad reality for several towns in the united
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states. red, white and blue might run deep, but it doesn't matter if you don't have green. >> when you are faced with difficult budget choices, you have to sort out the desirable from the essential. and the city council felt that this was an appropriate cut to make. >> reporter: 65 miles away in new rochelle, new york, they also cancel their display. but they sent out to the community a request and a woman donated $50,000. >> it felt good. from the moment i called to do it, i have felt nothing but joy. and i knew it was right. i still know it's right. i saw the energy shift in the people and excitement. and you have to have that. >> this box right here is 36-shot box. there's 36 small tubes in there. as soon as we hit the ignition switch, the tubes will start firing one after the other. >> reporter: boxes and boxes of
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fireworks now being unloaded in time for the show. and in new rochelle, new york, that kicks off after sunset tonight. more and more people heard about what a great show it was, but that meant more crowds, more rowdiness and the need for more security. and the bureau in the end couldn't pay for it, wolf. >> a lot of these cities are strapped right now. that's obviously one of the things that goes. >> it's one of the first things, unfortunately, that goes. it's sad. for many celebrations like the one in red bank, that's been going on for 53 years. for the first time it's been cancel canceled. they're hoping this means the community will come together and they may get more donations for next year, wolf. >> hope so. a lot of kids will be disappointed. >> yeah. >> thank you. in california the fireworks are likely to come with mixed emotions for one family still recovering almost four years since devastating wildfires destroyed their home. having a child with autism makes the struggle all the more challenging. cnn's casey wian joining us now.
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he's got more on this story. what's going on, casey? >> reporter: well, wolf, back in 2008 this community that you can see behind me was burnt to the ground by a wildfire. as you can see by all the empty lots, a lot of folks never came back. those who did have mostly recovered, but they still struggle with the fire's legacy. for the reyes family, fourth of july fireworks -- some 600 others were burnt to the ground by a wildfire. >> flames were coming over the ridge. it literally just took over. and this is all that's left of my house. all this was burning. >> reporter: their son then 7-year-old jonathan, has autism. >> he doesn't do well with change. so this is going to be very hard
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to explain to him. >> reporter: in 2008 cnn accompanied the reyes' as they picked through the burnt rubble of their home. jonathan searched for his beloved hot wheels collection. >> he's trying to find a car. >> reporter: this fragment was all that remained. >> one of my cars. >> reporter: the harsh reality of rebuilding their lives began to sink in. >> there was a lot of happy memories in this house. and we just had to come here and say good-bye. >> jonathan, we're leaving. we're not coming back. >> why? >> that is what we thought. that was our plan is that we were leaving. we were not coming back. >> reporter: the next few months were tough, especially for jonathan. he struggled in school and at night. >> he had night terrors is what they call them. and he'd just wake up screaming. >> reporter: therapy helped jonathan cope. still, he missed his old house. >> this is part of his routine
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with autistic kids. this is what he knows. we don't want to mess it up any more than what he's already had to go through. >> reporter: so they rebuilt on the same spot. >> i feel happy that we were going to come back. >> reporter: a year after the fire, the family returned. today, jonathan is doing much better. donations doubled the size of his hot wheels collection. >> i got this award. >> reporter: and he's winning awards in school. but the family still struggles. especially with sirens, helicopters. >> when you lose literally everything you have, i'll still go out to the garage and i got that tool, i know i can fix it. and realize, you know what, you don't have it anymore. >> reporter: are you watching what's going on in colorado now? when you see those flames and what's going on for those people, what does that bring back to you? >> you wish you could go help them. you know what they've been through or what they are going
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through. >> reporter: while the threat of fire is ever prevalent, jonathan is still attached to his home. reyes' do have a message for those families in colorado who have lost their homes to the fire there. they say stay strong, stay close to family. eventually things will get better, wolf. >> casey, good luck to those folks out there. good luck to everyone out there. thanks very much. tonight there are new suspicions that the palestinian leader, yasser arafat, may have been poisoned. what turned up among other things on his old toothbrush. to prove how great the fit is even under a fantastic dress. the best protection now looks, fits and feels just like underwear. we invite you to get a free sample and try one on too.
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♪ our look is slacker chic and our sound is hardcore ♪ ♪ and we're here to drop a rhyme about free-credit-score ♪ ♪ i'm singing free-credit-score-dot-com ♪ ♪ dot-com narrator: offer applies with enrollment in freecreditscore.com. ♪ it was the best day ♪ ♪ it was the best day yeah! ♪ it was the best day ♪ because of you [sigh] [echoing] we make a great pair. huh? progressive and the great outdoors -- we make a great pair. right, totally, uh... that's what i was thinking. covering the things that make the outdoors great. now, that's progressive. call or click today.
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today the pakistani taliban threatened to start attacking supply trucks making their way from afghanistan -- into afghanistan, i should say, from pakistan bringing supplies to u.s. and nato troops. the threat comes only one day after pakistan accepted an apology from the secretary of state, hillary clinton. and agreed to reopen those vital
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supply routes. and joining us now from islamabad, the pakistani ambassador to the united states, ambassador sherry rehman. ambassador, thanks very much for coming in. why did it take so long, seven months, to work out this deal? >> it took us a while, but we welcome the strategic patience that all parties showed in this whole process. and i think that today and yesterday mark a historic don in this relationship. we have been able to, i think, turn towards building on this opportunity and hope the downward spiral this really could have spun towards. >> because the secretary of state, hillary clinton, after your government demanded for months and months a formal apology for that incident last november -- >> that's right. >> -- which a couple dozen pakistani troops were killed accidentally by the united states. she did issue a statement. she said we are sorry for the
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losses suffered by the pakistani military. we are committed to working closely with pakistan and afghanistan to prevent this from ever happening again. now, the word sorry is not necessarily exactly the same as apologize. was that an issue? did you want her to go further? or is this good enough as far as pakistan is concerned? >> well, you know, i can speak for the government and most of parliament, which really did ask -- you know, in pakistan, sorry, an apology, usually, i mean the word sorry does mean an apology. and it's not seen as a soft option. >> ambassador, there were a lot of reports that originally you were charging only about $200, $250 per truck bringing supplies to u.s. and nato forces into afghanistan from karachi and pakistan. but at some point you wanted to increase that to $5,000 a truck. u.s. officials thought it was
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exorbitant. it's going to go back to the way it was, is that right? >> wolf, it was never -- i don't know where this $5,000 figure has come from. it just got a life of its own after some speculation in the press. i would just like to say that there was never any intent to, as i said, you know, make this one of our negotiations or make price an element of our negotiations. it really wasn't about that. and as you say, it's going to go back to what it was, which we call no-charge because we're not really going into any ark tech ch ture or levees that others do charge or may continue to charge. for us, it's a commitment towards stabilizing afghanistan. it's our very nature contribution to peace in the middle east and we certainly don't want to be demonized anymore as a country that is holding back.
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if anything else, pakistan has paid more in terms of life and blood and treasure in this entire conflict for the last ten years than anybody -- than all the joint resources of nato in afghanistan. >> the u.s. officials are saying though that as part of this arrangement, there will be an additional more than $1 billion a year in assistance to pakistan. $1.1 billion, $1.2 billion to reimburse the pakistani military for support along the border, the counterinsurgency support along the border with afghanistan. is this new billion-dollar-aid package part of this deal? >> i'm not, wolf, aware of any new aid package. as i understand, if you're speaking about the coalition support funds, i take this opportunity to disabuse anyone of the notion that this is any kind of aid package. coalition support funds is the arrangement that was agreed on between pakistan and the united
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states for compensation of logistical and other deployment on the western side of the border in support of -- and other mobilization, in support of nato and u.s. forces. >> we're almost out of time. one final question, ambassador. any chance that pakistani doctor who helped the cia find bin laden in abbottabad and has been sentenced to 33 years in prison in pakistan, any chance you might be willing to reduce that sentence or let him go? come to the united states with his family? >> wolf, he did not know at any point that he was assisting in looking for bin laden. these are actions of the pakistani courts. he has at least three layers of appeals. he has not been indicted for
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assisting and abetting with any foreign intelligence agency. he has been indicted right now for assisting and signing agreements with -- and being in a web of complicated agreements in the tribal agency killing and of course for egregious concern for pakistan and should be for the united states as well. >> ambassador, we're out of time. appreciate it very much. i will leave you with this one thought. outrage in the u.s. congress over this 33-year sentence for this physician. and as you know -- >> indeed there is. >> -- in retaliation cut off $33 million in annual assistance to pakistan hoping that would send a powerful message to your government that he might be released and allowed to come to the united states or whatever. >> we're mindful of americans concerns. let me say we do hear you. thank you. >> ambassador sherry rehman, the
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pakistani ambassador to the united states. we'll stay in close touch. look forward to seeing you back here in washington. state lawmaker casts a deciding vote on an important issue by accidentally hitting the wrong button. they won't let her take it back. z to keep the car you reserved or simply choose another. and it's free. ya know, for whoever you are that day. it's just another way you'll be traveling at the speed of hertz. i have to know the weather patterns. i upgraded to the new sprint direct connect. so i can get three times the coverage. [ chirp ] [ manager 2 ] it's like working in a giant sandbox with all these huge toys. and with the fastest push-to-talk... i can keep track of them all. [ chirp ] [ chirp ] [ male announcer ] upgrade to the new "done." with access to the fastest push-to-talk
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>> hi, wolf. this is what we know. a coal train traveling from wyoming to wisconsin derailed in north brook, illinois, north of chicago. several cars went off an overpass and there was a small fire, but it is now out. union pacific tells cnn there are no injuries. and today another car bombing targeted a largely shiite town killing at least eight people and wounding two dozen more at an outdoor market. and in separate attacks in baghdad, gunmen killed two police officers and employee of the iraqi parliament. a series of bomb blasts killed at least 36 people across iraq today. and there are new calls to exhume the body of one-time palestinian leader, yasser arafat, to confirm or deny suspicions he may have been poisoned. he died after a sudden illness in 2004. in a report broadcast on al jazeera, a doctor revealed new tests detected the poisonous radioactive substance in ar
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fat's toothbrush and clothing. meanwhile, a race for congress in the state of illinois is getting really nasty. one candidate says her opponent is a loud mouth. wait until you hear what he says about her service. fighting in the war in iraq. and michael bloomberg goes for a record number of hot dog puns in a single sentence. but he isn't very happy about it. ♪ ♪
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on this fourth of july let's get right to our strategy session. joining us now, donna brazile, the democratic strategist. rich gallin, republican strategist. thanks for coming in. happy fourth of july. >> same to you. >> as you know, mitt romney was up in new hampshire walking around, talking including to our own dana bash, and he clearly disagrees with one of his top strategic advisors who only monday said that the mandate was not a tax, it was a penalty, not a tax. he specifically said that. but listen to mitt romney today. >> the supreme court is the final word, right? the highest court in the land? they said it was a tax, didn't they? it was a tax, of course. that's what they say it is.
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>> you got that. he says it is a tax now that the supreme court has ruled. rich, let me start with you. what's going on? between monday and wednesday -- >> they're finally figuring it out. in fact, here's what it is. the supreme court -- the chief justice ruled that the mandate -- that the penalty could not be a penalty on the mandate because of the commerce clause. illegal extension of the commerce clause. so the only thing it could be is a tax. >> which is constitutional. congress has the right to write taxes. >> i got that. but states don't have a commerce clause. so it can be a tax in massachusetts and be perfectly legal because it's not in violation of anything. it's a little bit like quantum physics where light can be a prod kal or a wave -- >> let's not get into quantum -- who is right. eric ob monday? >> eric isn't running for
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anything. who cares. >> but she's a senior strategist. >> it doesn't make a difference. mitt romney has it right. as a governor of the state, he doesn't have to deal with the commerce clause. it was a tax. so the romney campaign gets to see, say, this is the largest tax -- not the largest tax, but largest tax increase in history. >> has he said that, donna? the obama administration continues to refuse to acknowledge what the supreme cot has ruled and saved obama care, if you will, by saying it's a tax and it's constitutional. why does the obama administration continue to refuse to say what mitt romney said today, what the supreme court said? >> well, first of all, let's make it clear that mitt romney in 2006 after he signed the sweeping health care law in massachusetts called this provision a penalty. and mitt romney's on record and supporting the individual responsibility mandate as a penalty. that is the same provision pretty much plagiarized from the massachusetts law that became part of the affordable care act.
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so it is a penalty, wolf, that individuals who opt not paying health insurance or buying health insurance will have to pay not as part of their taxes, but as part of a penalty for not purchasing. they're used to sweeping clause that congress in article 1 that congress has under the taxing authority to consider it a penalty -- >> donna, it's a penalty, but it's also a tax. the solicitor general, the top lawyer for the obama administration -- >> argued. >> -- argued before supreme court that it was a tax. the irs will administer it. it will be due on april 15th as a tax. that's what they do. it's a tax. you guys are reluctant to acknowledge -- >> go back to the uncertainty -- >> i'm not just saying, it's a penalty and a tax. >> i don't have a problem with the semantics of it, wolf. i have a problem with mitt romney being inconsistent about it. he's not only contradicting his senior advisor, who is a very important senior advisor, but
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also contradicting things he said himself about this bill. it's not the largest tax increase -- >> it's in the top ten. but that's what i'm saying -- >> top 15. since 1950. >> since yesterday afternoon. >> does this show that there's a problem though among the senior staff of the romney campaign as rupert murdoch, jack welch are suggesting? they need to get some better people. if you have one statement saying something on monday, a different statement on wednesday, there might be a problem. >> there might be a problem. wait until we see the friday unemployment numbers when everybody's going to forget about this. >> wolf, the problem is not the senior staff. the problem is a candidate who is not consistent on these issues. he hasn't been consistent from a governor to running for president and he's not consistent now. >> let me get to this other issue because there's a tight race in illinois right now. there's an incumbent republican, joe walsh, being faced by a democrat, an iraq war veteran, she lost both of her legs while
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serving in the u.s. military. and listen to both walsh and duckworth. they're going after each other. walsh started it. listen to this. >> understand something about john mccain, his political advisors day after day had to take him and almost throw him against a wall and hit him against the head and say, senator, you have to let people know you serve. you have to talk about what you did. he didn't want to do it. wouldn't do it. now, i'm running against a woman -- i mean, my god, that's all she talks about. our true heroes that -- >> he really disrespected 23 million. anyone who has worn a uniform a single day has done more than joe walsh has ever done. >> talk about this. it's ugly. >> i think they're both ugly and i think they're both wrong.
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and they ought to get off this as quickly -- >> why is he wrong? >> because if you serve in public service, the highest level of citizenship is being in uniform. >> she did. he never did. >> but the next one i think is being is serving in public office, running for and serving in public office putting yourself out to do that. so i think she's wrong about that. as the only person at this table that spent six months in iraq, been around a lot of active duty folks, a lot of veterans i'm still in contact with, some talk about it a lot, some never talk about it. i think he's wrong too. >> as a daughter of a veteran who spent 52 years of my life loving my father every step along the way, we honor their service and sacrifice. what tammy and millions of our citizens have done, we should be proud of them and proud of their service. what john mccain did, proud of his service. i think joe walsh was absolutely wrong. i would not have come back at mr. walsh the way miss duckworth did, but i understand the insult he leveled at her and she had
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every right to speak her mind. let's honor their service especially on this very, very important day. >> later in the interview she called him an extremist loud mouth for the tea party as well. it's a tough race. >> very ugly. >> very ugly already. >> another race to watch, wolf. we have a lot of races to watch. >> we'll be watching them all. >> yes, sir. >> donna brazile, thanks for coming in. once again, happy fourth of july. >> same to you. it's being called one of the most important announcements in the history of science. in a minute, you're going to find out what researchers just detected. it may be responsible for everything you see around you. also, why a north carolina lawmaker wasn't allowed to take back her vote when all she did was hit the wrong button. and mayor bloomberg tells an audience what he thinks about his latest speech. no matter what you do. when you're living with moderate to severe crohn's disease, there are times it feels like your life... revolves around your symptoms.
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scientists announced a huge discovery today. lisa sylvester is back monitoring that story and other top stories in "the situation room" right now. what happened, lisa? >> wolf, this is a fascinating story. vindication for a british scientist who nearly half a century ago theorized there's a particle responsible for forming all the matter in the universe. 82-year-old peter higs was on hand today as scientists
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announced they have finally detected a particle that fits his description of what's become known as the higgs bozon. to detect it, scientists needed a $10 billion atom smasher. detectors the size of office buildings and thousands of computers. and they still aren't exactly sure how it converts pure energy into matter. and india's monsoon rains are blamed for flooding that's killed at least 95 people and left some 2 million people homeless. after visiting the disaster area in the northeastern state, india's prime minister committed $90 million to that relief effort. back here in the united states, a tail-wagging thank you to oregon firefighters who rescued a dog from the side of a gravel pit. daisy had been missing for about a week when someone spotted her dug in along a ledge along the wall. no one knows how she got there, but a fireman suspended from the end of a ladder got a harness on daisy and managed to haul her to
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safety. and sometimes politicians, they stick to the script. and sometimes they don't. with that in mind, we give you new york city mayor, michael bloomberg, paying tribute, sort of, to nathan's annual hot dog eating contest. >> one of their dogged pursuers will finally ketchup and no question it's going to be a dog fight. think how many we got in one sentence. that was really impressive. who wrote this [ bleep ]? [ laughter ] >> a little candid moment there. this year's winners were the defending champions, joey josh chestnut and sonja, the black widow, thomas. the black widow, she's an itty bitty thing. she only weighs like 100 pounds and could certainly put away the hot dogs. >> amazing what happens on july 4th around the country. thanks, lisa. a race against time to get
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truckloads of food and water to those who need it most. ahead, we're going back to west virginia where a major crisis is unfolding right now only days after that devastating storm. and a state lawmaker accidentally undermines her party, her own principles with the press of a button. an accident doesn't have to slow you down. with better car replacement available only with liberty mutual auto insurance, if your car's totaled, we give you the money for a car one model year newer. to learn more, visit us today. responsibility. what's your policy?
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a state lawmaker in north carolina says she feels rotten after accidentally casting the deciding vote in favor of something she opposes. new natural gas drilling using a ground fracturing procedure known as fracking. and get this, she can't take back her vote. laura leslie of cnn's raleigh affiliate, wral, shows us what happened. >> reporter: green and red, aye and no. it might seem hard to confuse them, but representative becky carney says that's exactly what happened late monday night when she accidentally voted to legalize fracking. >> i made a mistake. and i tried to get recognized to change it as people have been doing all night on other bills. and it was too late because it changed the outcome of the vote. >> reporter: allows voters to change their votes as long as it does not effect the outcome of the bill. they do that a lot. they push the wrong button and change their votes later.
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but this vote did effect the veto override. so the rules don't allow carney to change it, says representative paul stam, no matter what her intentions were. >> that doesn't count in legislation. it's what you actually -- how you vote, not how you wish to vote. >> reporter: carney could have asked for that rule to be suspended, but she never got the chance. stam used a parliamentary move called a clincher to make sure she couldn't change it. speaker tom tillis defended that maneuver. is it the best way to make public policy based on a mistake? >> i think that the member was well-aware of how to vote, green or red, for whatever reason, maybe it was a mistake, maybe she decided to change her vote, but we can't do that. >> reporter: carney says it was a mistake. and she takes responsibility for it. but she says midnight end of session votes don't exactly help. >> i feel rotten. and i feel tired. and i feel mistakes are made
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constantly when people are tired. and under the stress of pushing to get out of here. >> reporter: laura leslie, wral news, raleigh. >> a practical effect of all this would be to open a 150-mile long area of central north carolina to exploration, but it will also raise concerns about possible water pollution. and you're in "the situation room." happening now, a shocking new dimension to the weather disaster in the east. people are going hungry. plus, was the palestinian leader, yasser arafat, poisoned? scientists find traces of radioactivity in his clothing and toothbrush, same matter used to kill a former russian spy. and a special cnn investigation. >> everybody ran towards that emergency boat and pushed him out of the way. everybody was panicking. everybody was running for their own lives. >> survivors tell us about their
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desperate struggle on the night their cruise ship capsized off the italian coast. we want to welcome our viewers in the united states and around the world. i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room." no power and now no food. while many of you are enjoying backyard barbecues all across the country, others are fighting off hunger after that devastating storm that left millions of people in 11 states without electricity. food has spoiled, grocery shelves are empty, and food pantries now are running very, very low. it's especially hard in west virginia, a state not too well-off to begin with. brian todd is in west virginia. she's joining us now. he's speaking with some people
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trying to help people from going hungry. what's the very latest, brian? >> reporter: wolf, this state has just faced a cascade of disasters. the storm on friday, the unyielding heat wave that is still hanging over this place, the widespread power outages, and now a severe food crisis. john roberts is in a hurry. he's got to get a truckload full of food and water to a shelter soon. roberts runs a faith-based charity called mountain mission. we follow his team as they pull into the city community center. a temporary center in charleston. dozens who have been without power and food for days, many of them low-income are visibly relieved at his arrival. >> thank you so much. >> reporter: people like yolanda wilcox, legally blind and on food stamps. she says her family of eight struggled to find food since a tree fell on her house and knocked out the power. >> we went to churches and stuff like that to get some food. you know. but it's been very hard. very hard indeed because had to
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go from place to place. and then it's hot. >> reporter: this 23-year-old tells even a more desperate story. how long did you go without food and water? >> about four days. >> reporter: what was that like? >> very hard. very hot. felt like you were going to pass out. got trembling, shaking. >> reporter: state officials charity leaders tell us nearly every county in west virginia is dealing with food shortages. stores without power have tossed out spoiled food. state food banks are depleted of nonperishables. >> this really surprised us. i've been doing this job for 12 years. we help with a lot of fires, a lot of floods, things like that. but this storm snuck up on us. >> reporter: now eight groups and state officials are working feverishly to headoff a worst case scenario. they've distributed 50,000 bottles of water this size, 4,000 pounds of nonperishable foods here to those in need. a fema official tells us this is not another katrina. that official says fema has
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learned from hurricane katrina, coordinated with state officials from day one bringing 100,000 meals into west virginia. nearly 100 large generators. some of it clearly has arrived without much time to spare. >> it's hard, but we still thank god that it is a place we can come and get food. >> reporter: now, one of the biggest challenges here is that of communication. state officials tell us that it's been very hard to get word to some of the people in the remote areas. and a lot of the people who have been hit hard by this storm with power outages and lacking food live in very remote areas. it's been very hard to get word to them on where they can go to get food and other help. wolf. >> brian, why did those two main food banks in the state of west virginia get depleted of food so quickly after the storm? >> reporter: well, a state official told me really it was the storm and the outages compounding problem. they've had to serve -- those food banks, one in the north and one in fact southern part of the
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state. they're essentially huge warehouses that just give food on a normal basis to people who are in need. they had to give food to those people as well as people who ran out of it and came to them in dire need. so they just ran out of it too quickly. now they're scrambling to make up for that. >> certainly are. brian, thank you. as of this morning west virginia's governor said 300,000 customers were still without power in his state. so think water pumps, grocery stores, they are still unable to open or refrigerate food. gas stations unable to operate. the scale of this problem remains enormous. joining us now is the man brian just told us about all. john roberts, the executive director of the mountain mission in west virginia. how does this -- he's going to be joining us in just a moment. this is a subject that obviously is of deep, deep concern to all of us not only in west virginia, obviously, but around the country. it's been five days now since
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power went out, john. how bad is the situation as far as food getting to individuals right now? >> well, it's pretty severe, but government officials, fema, local faith-based charities, a lot of churches are pulling together. we've created cooling stations where people can come. they can cool off. they can get ice. they can get food. they can even sleep there if need be. but it is become a neighbor helping neighbor process. i'm real proud of west virginians that have stepped up and helped their fellow neighbors. >> are you confident, john, that those people -- no significant number of people in west virginia right now who are starving? >> well, i think, you know, we're doing the best we can on a regular basis there are people that need assistance due to low income and different things like that, loss of jobs. but in a massive devastation like this, we didn't have just
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one thing hit us at one time. we had multiple things to hit us. we had wind storms. we had rain with that. we had downed trees. we lost electric. on top of all that we have a heat wave. so, you know, with all that combined, wolf, it's really tough to get to everybody as quickly as we can. but agencies are working around the clock. we are lifting no limits to make sure that we try to meet basic needs of our fellow neighbors. you know, it's not just low income people. it's people that live in very wealthy neighborhoods that have trees just like right here behind me. you have trees down. take the lines down. we have to think about the safety of the power company workers and things like that. it's going to take some time. but i can tell you i've spent some time with government officials. and i know for sure that we're doing everything within our power and local agencies are as well to meet the need of hand.
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>> i know it's an extraordinary crisis going on. no one could have predicted this storm that hit not only west virginia but other states nearby as well. but what i hear you saying, correct me if i'm wrong, is that maybe the federal government, the state government, local governments, they weren't as fully prepared perhaps as they could have been. >> well, i don't know that i'm in the right position to say that. i don't know that i totally agree with that. but what i am saying is that that was such a widespread storm, it's not just here in west virginia. other states are having problems as well. and, you know, sometimes you can plan for the worst. you always hope for the best, but you plan for the worst. and, you know, you have to have the shelves full of food. but when you are hit multiple times with power lines down, it takes time. we're a very mountainous state,
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a very beautiful state. but it takes time to get to these power grids and get these systems back up and running. but i can assure you that all agencies are working as aggressively as possible to get to everybody. we want no one, no one at all, not one west virginian to go hungry. we don't want anybody to be sick from the heat or anything like that. and we're doing the very best we can. and i'm proud of the success we've had here. i know that there are going to be some people that think we should get to things quicker. that's human nature. and, you know, we're doing the best we can. we're humans helping humans. you know, that's really a plus. when things happen here in west virginia, we become a unit. we become positive. and we make things happen for the good of people. >> i know you do. i know there were important lessons learned after katrina. there will certainly be important lessons learned after this disaster as well. john, thanks very much.
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good luck to all the folks in west virginia. preervet it. >> wolf, thank you for having me. in much of the country all eyes will be on the sky. but in some places it will be a fourth of july without fireworks. we're going to tell you what's going on. in parts of georgia flooding is so bad that residents are using boats to get around. we're going to show you where streets are turning into rivers. and they put their lives at risk for their country. today they became citizens of the united states of america. today, we stand against the tyranny of single mile credit cards.
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doesn't get much more patriotic than this. service members who sacrificed their lives to keep our country safe become u.s. citizens on this fourth of july. happened today at the white house. our white house correspondent, brianna keilar, was there on the scene for us. a very, very nice moment. everything though that the president does in this election year seems to have some political implications as well. tell our viewers, first of all,
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what happened. >> reporter: well, wolf, certainly you know this is something that i think a lot of people look at. these citizens being naturalized receiving their citizenship in quite a beautiful ceremony. obviously a great way to support july 4th. but, yes, you cannot escape the political prism here. it's president obama and his campaign are very happy right now to emphasi his positions on immigration. you'll remember he recently unilaterally made the decision, his administration did, to buy some time for young illegal immigrants who do have degrees or are in school or have taken military service so that they aren't deported. they want to hold mitt romney to his immigration position as he has not taken a stance on what they have done. >> what a perfect way to celebrate america's birthday, the world's oldest democracy with some of our newest citizens. >> reporter: fourth of july at the white house. president obama welcomed
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military men and women to be sworn-in as u.s. citizens by homeland security secretary janet napalatano. among the 25, lance corporal born in guatemala came here as a boy after his father received political asylum. >> he tells me sometimes not having money to eat or money to do anything. >> reporter: after deployment to afghanistan and with citizenship now under his belt, he's ready for the next chapter in his life. >> i'm going to start my state police process in rhode island. so hopefully, wish me -- they're looking at me right now. if you get my applications. >> reporter: these new citizens were legal residents, but it was this backdrop that president obama used to tout his administration's recent move to protect young illegal immigrants
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from deportation. >> we're lifting the shadow of deportation from serving -- from deserving young people who were brought to this country as children. >> reporter: and he pressed congress to do more. >> it's why we need -- why america's success demands comprehensive immigration reform. because the lesson of these 236 years is clear. immigration makes america stronger. immigration makes us more prosperous. >> reporter: it's a hot issue in an election year. in a recent cnn orc poll, mitt romney came out just slightly on top of president obama when voters were asked, who would handle illegal immigration better? that said, only 28% ranked immigration as extremely important to their vote. the tenth most important issue in the poll. well-behind the deficit, health care and the number one concern, the economy. but, wolf, as you know, it's a very important issue to a key
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constituency for president obama, latino voters. they of course are key in a number of states, colorado, new mexico, arizona, nevada. and they're also growing in numbers in a number of other battleground states, for instance, ohio and pennsylvania, where the president will be the next couple of days. and iowa where he's visiting next week, wolf. >> nice ceremony indeed over at the white house. appreciate it very much, brianna keilar reporting. we've shown you some heart wrenching stories this week from the wildfires raging out in the west. firefighters desperately trying to hold back the flames. residents returning to devastated neighborhoods. now the worst fire in colorado's history is mostly contained. and out of the ashes one family's determined to turn tragedy into a new beginning. let's go live to cnn's jim spellman in colorado. he's been watching all of this unfold. what's going on now, jim? >> reporter: wolf, it's hard enough to imagine losing your home to this wildfire. just imagine losing it if your
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spouse is overseas in harm's way serving in the u.s. army. take a look. when the fire roared into colorado springs, u.s. army captain emanuel was four months into deployment in the horn of africa. wife, melissa, was home taking care of the three kids. >> it was my son's tenth birthday that day, actually. we picked up his cake. our home -- the kitchen windows look up to the foothills. and when i saw that fire come over the ridge is when i really knew that it was possibly very serious. and i just said we have to get out of here. >> reporter: the winds picked up and the fire raced down the hill behind their home. she scrambled into the car with the kids and made their way to safety at a friend's house. the bad news came later that evening when she saw this photo from the "denver post." their home front and center engulfed in flame. and her husband was following the news in africa on his
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smartphone. >> i just texted the picture to him. i said here's our home. >> reporter: what did you think when you saw a picture of your house engulfed in flames. >> there was no question my house was actually burning. >> reporter: he immediately showed the picture to his superiors. >> the first thing they said is, you need to go home. >> reporter: he was on the next plane home. but he decided to keep his return a secret from his wife and kids. less than 24 hours after receiving the photo, he was back in colorado. >> there was a ring at the doorbell. >> my daughter, grace, i believe opened the door first. >> and there he was. and, i mean, the kids were there and we were all just sort of in disbelief. i mean, just, oh my gosh. >> reporter: they were together again. when he walked in that door, what was it like? >> just elation. the feeling of, okay, we can get through this together. it's great. >> i was completely ecstatic. i just wanted to hold all of them altogether.
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you know, it was something that i just had to be with my wife and my kids. >> reporter: they're spending the fourth of july in a hotel as they figure out what's next. >> after almost 15 years of being together, i think we've weathered a lot of storms together. and we just know how to get through things together. >> and knowing that we will. we just will get through this. it's a matter of time and patience. lots of patience. >> new beginning for us. >> reporter: statewide fireworks ban here means that all the public celebrations that you would normally find on a patriotic military town like colorado springs, have been canceled. but my sense, wolf, is people are just taking this opportunity today to spend some time -- quiet time with family and friends and reflect on even though there's a lot of damage and two people died in this fire, they know it could be a lot worse. i think people here are taking stock of all they have and all they're grateful for today on this fourth of july. wolf. >> certainly good points, jim,
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thanks for all the terrific work you've been doing for us all this week covering this story. very important story. a frightening new government report. it says companies that control our water and power have seen a sharp rise in cyber attacks. and the number of times it happened might surprise you. we have new information. and he doesn't have legs, but that didn't stop him from becoming a world class sprinter. exciting news about the man they call "blade runner." this is rudy.] his morning starts with arthritis pain. and two pills. afternoon's overhaul starts with more pain. more pills. triple checking hydraulics. the evening brings more pain. so, back to more pills. almost done, when... hang on. stan's doctor recommended aleve. it can keep pain away all day with fewer pills than tylenol. this is rudy. who switched to aleve. and two pills for a day free of pain. ♪ [ female announcer ] and try aleve for relief from tough headaches. [ male announcer ] even if you think you can live with your old mattress why not talk to one of the six million people who've switched to the most highly recommended bed in america?
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a new report shows a sharp rise in cyber attacks. lisa sylvester is back. she's monitoring that story. some of the other top stories in "the situation room" right now. what's the latest, lisa? >> hi there, wolf. companies that control infrastructure critical to the u.s. like power, water and nuclear material, are reporting a much higher number of cyber attacks on their systems than in the past. this according to a new report from the department of homeland security. the report says there were almost 200 incidents reported to dhs last year up from only nine in 2009. and the man known as "blade runner" is going to the olympics. sprinter oscar mipistorius wille
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the first double amputee. he was selected by africa's 4 x 400 meter team. he runs on carbon fiber blades, earning him the nickname "blade runner." he's a four-time paralympics games gold medallist. and the flooding in camden county, people are using boats to get around. >> reporter: i'm standing in a street right now. i was here a couple days ago and there was no water. in two days it's almost up to my waist. check out this fence, it's almost completely covering the fence. and you can see just how fast the current is moving. these homes over here are under water. >> this is a catastrophic happening for st. mary's river. and the people. >> reporter: homes are in several feet of water. >> the poor houses here are in bad shape. the few that are lucky enough to still be above water are real fortunate. >> reporter: the woman living in this home just had a baby.
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>> they just fixed the trailer up. and the baby's bedroom's under water right now. so that's not a good thing. >> reporter: mailboxes are almost completely covered. and the streets have turned into river rapids. >> the road that we're traveling on, the current's real strong. the challenge is to fight the current. >> reporter: aside from the difficulties of getting to work and the store for the few who are still here, they're facing even bigger burdens. paul townsend sets alarms all throughout the night to check on his neighbors houses because of break-ins. >> some of the same people in the last flood. we don't like to be kicked while we're down. so we called the sheriff's department. and they've assured us they won't come back here no more. >> reporter: they also can't drink the water because bacteria could be in the well. >> starting to get a high bacteria content in the water as it purges all of these septic tanks and the sewage systems and whatever. >> reporter: and it's not going to let up any time soon.
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>> even after the crest, the full moon's going to keep it here for a little while. >> reporter: another problem to deal with, the ants, spiders, snakes and alligators. they have found a new home. channel 4. >> the flooding was caused by tropical storm debby. and many camden county residents were forced to evacuate. wolf. lisa, thank you. there's one thing everybody expects on this fourth of july. but this year towns and cities all across the country are banning fireworks. police are on the look out for those who violate the ban. we have new information. and was the palestinian lee leader, yasser arafat, poisoned? scientists found traces of radioactive on his toothbrush, same material used to kill a former russian spy. unity to affect what happens in a major city. if you want to make a difference,
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[ male announcer ] everyone likes a bit of order in their life. virtual wallet helps you get it. keep track of spending, move money with a slide, and use the calendar. all to see your money how you want. ♪ in the middle east right now, stunning new suspicions that yasser arafat may have been poisoned by a radioactive substance. the palestinian authority is willing to exhume the body of the long-time leader who died of a mysterious illness eight years ago at the age of 75. this after a swiss scientist tested some of arafat's effects including clothing, toothbrush and his trademark black and white head scarf. they found abnormal levels of polonium 210. a rare radioactivive isotope. but one of the scientists stresses the results do not mean
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arafat suffered radioactive poisoning. medical records are not consistent with that. but there has been one dramatic case of plutonium poisoning which may offer some clues. matthew has been looking into this story for us joining us now from london. what are you finding out, matthew? >> well, wolf, the fact that polonium 210, this very rare radioactive isotope has been linked in this way by this clinic in switzerland to the death of the late palestinian leader, yasser arafat, is potentially a very dramatic development, dramatic twist in this already, you know, very highly questionable circumstances around his death. alexander was a former russian spy turned russian dissident killed here in london back in 2006 using exactly that same substance. take a listen. the grim picture of the only
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person known to have been murdered with polonium 210. alexander, a former russian spy turned dissident, was killed in london in 2006, two years after yasser arafat died. investigators say he was administered a massive dose of the radioactive isotope. his death was agonizing and slow. word the same substance may now have been detected on the clothes worn by yasser arafat raises the question he was killed in a similar way. though the scientists who conducted the test told cnn direct comparisons were difficult to make. >> it's hard to compare because he was diagnosed as being poisoned by polonium as he was alive. so that means the activities were huge. in the case of mr. arafat, we just suspect potential poisoning
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by polonium, but one-million time down. so it's hard to do the measurement. >> reporter: it would be an astonishing revelation if this rare radioactive substance were in any way linked to the palestinian leader's death. firstly, polonium 210 is extremely difficult to produce. 97% of the global supply is made in russian nuclear reactors then sold to u.s. companies for use. analysts say it's unlikely anyone except a state-backed agent would be able to get hold of enough of it to kill. but polonium has advantages as a weapon. we've seen its devastating impact on him. it is a reliable killer. it's also very hard to detect requiring special equipment and decays extremely quickly. has a half-life. it halves in quantity every 138 days. the evidence in other words can simply disappear. but once detected, experts say polonium 210 can easily be
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traced to its source. though that's not necessarily a flaw. >> the only reason i can think of that somebody would want to use such a rare and easily traceable element is that they would want someone to know that they were using it. they would want to make a political statement or some kind of bold statement. >> reporter: it's said he had powerful vengeful enemies. yasser arafat, of course, may have had many more. of course part of the problem is there's been a lot of questions hanging over the death of yasser arafat in 2004. there was no real autopsy or no real cause of death established. and that's led to all sorts of conspiracy theories since then. these findings at the swiss clinic have only added to that debate. >> you're absolutely right, matthew. i remember at the time he died immediately there were all sorts of conspirator theories coming
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out. thanks very much. let's dig deeper on what's going on. could he have been poisoned? and by who? lisa, i know you're on the west bake. you're back in jerusalem right now. why is this all coming out now? >> reporter: well, wolf, these are the -- the study was a product of an investigative documentary by the arab network, al jazeera, the network and his wife suha, asked to test the clothing, toothbrush of yasser arafat and also look at the medical records in the days leading up to when he died. and as you know, as we've been saying, a lot of conspiracy theories surrounding yasser arafat's death. but now the palestinians didn't have any proof. and now they're saying these findings confirm their suspicions he was assassinated. >> how seriously is the palestinian leadership,
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palestinian authority representative and others, how seriously are they dealing with it? >> reporter: very seriously, wolf. president abass wants an international investigation. his wife suha and the palestinian authority are saying they will exhume his body. they want to have further testing because as we've been discussing, you know, these results aren't conclusive. they don't necessarily say he's been poisoned. but it's been eight years, wolf. we really don't know if these findings will ever be conclusive. but what they're saying is yasser arafat was no ordinary man. he was the leader of the palestinian people considered the father of the palestinian people. and the people deserve to know what happened. and that's what i heard today on the streets talking to ordinary palestinians. but, wolf, they're also pointing the finger at israel. they say israel had motive, as we've been discussing. they had access to this kind of polonium, only advanced nations have access to this.
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and also the motive. the motive and the access. because as we know the relationship has been very tense with yasser arafat. what the israeli officials said to me today, these accusations are baseless, they're absurd. and the palestinians themselves can clear up the mystery surrounding his death by releasing his own medical records which have been sealed for eight years since his death, wolf. >> elise live investigating for us. we'll check back with you. a dramatic story indeed. i met with yasser arafat, by the way, on the west bank two years before he died. he was holed up at the time in his compound which seemed very disorganized. it was crowded with his very loyal aides. as was his style, we met in the middle of the night when he seemed to be right at the top of his game. we had a very, very long exchange about a possible two-state solution to the israeli/palestinian conflict. watch this. are you closer today to an independent palestinian state
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that will live along side in peace with israel than you were then? >> yes. and don't forget, when i left beirut and you remember -- >> i was in beirut then. >> yes. when they asked me where are you going, arafat, i said then to palestine. and now we are in palestine. and we hope that we have this independent state side-by-side. >> it's a significant state. >> for me do not forget they are our cousins. >> it took me an hour to get you to say that. unfortunately, however, those words didn't wind up reviving the peace process. and sadly, very sadly, tragically it still remains dormant right now. this year fireworks are against the law in towns across
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the united states. and police are ready to arrest anyone trying to light them. you're going to find out where the bans are in effect and why. and coming up, pictures you've never seen before of the panic inside the cruise ship that capsized off the italian coast. one cash rewards card you get a 50% annual bonus. and everyone likes 50% more cash -- well, except her. no! but, i'm about to change that. ♪ every little baby wants 50% more cash... ♪ phhht! fine, you try. [ strings breaking, wood splintering ] ha ha. [ male announcer ] the capital one cash rewards card. the card for people who want 50% more cash. ♪ what's in your wallet? ♪ what's in your...your... [ male announcer ] we believe small things can make a big difference. like how a little oil from here can be such a big thing in an old friend's life. purina one discovered that by blending enhanced botanical oils into our food, we can help brighten an old dog's mind so he's up to his old tricks.
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there will be fourth of july celebrations across the united states though but without fireworks for a lot of folks. several western states are struggling to put out massive wildfires. and almost everywhere else people are dealing with the extreme heat. fireworks may be a popular tradition, but with weather like this, they could also be extremely dangerous. >> reporter: we found police are stepping up fireworks patrols throughout the metro area, cracking down on those who violate the ban. >> i'm just sad that they still sell it. that's what i don't understand. >> reporter: tammy says it doesn't make sense that you can still purchase fireworks in colorado if it's illegal to use them. >> it's up to the consumer. what their risk tolerance is. again, normally i would buy a lot more serious fireworks, but sticking to the real smoke bombs and sparklers this year. nothing that goes up in the air.
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>> reporter: those who use any fireworks should know that police are taking the ban seriously, even with the crackdown, she's still hearing fireworks in her neighborhood. >> we've got dry trees around here that could just catch on fire. you know, see what happens tonight. >> reporter: well, the firefighters' primary concern is keeping the area where they launched the fireworks wet out here in the park where everybody watches them is also a big concern. the greenfield fire department decided to make their own rain in preps for their 30-minute fireworks display. >> what we don't want to occur is a fire on the ground while they're still loading fireworks in the tubes. so if we can get them successfully launched in the air, we're confident that that will be a safe show. >> see guys on the roof at 9:00 and they'll have full turnout gear, hoses laid all over the parking deck as well as adjacent roofs, just as preventive measure. >> reporter: most of the time shooting fireworks is at worst a
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nuisance to your neighbor. but shooting fireworks this year can endanger your entire neighborhood. the festive lights that fill the evening sky could still go on in some towns across arkansas, but if you want to shoot off your own, think again. county deputy says so far they've avoided major fires and they want to keep it that way. >> we're way beyond nuisance. it's potential danger. it's potential life threatening now because of the conditions. >> let's get an update now on this fourth of july with a forecast from cnn meteorologist karen maginnis. what's going on out there? >> wolf, we have temperatures exceedingly hot. they may not be at record-setting levels, but they're approaching it. washington, d.c. reporting 98 degrees right now. chicago, i think you've come close to a record high. certainly a record for st. louis with a temperature right now of 104 degrees. also des moines reporting 100. but here's something a little
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ironic. in tucson and phoenix, arizona, the temperatures there in the desert are in the 70s. and they've had a recent water rescue due to heavy rainfall in tucson as that monsoonal moisture begins to make its way more towards the north. so it looks like mother nature fireworks there, rainfall and abundance of it in the desert and just not enough across other parts of the u.s. take a look at the temperatures that we do have right now. kansas city, 101 degrees. and a number of cities in kansas, nebraska, arkansas, tennessee extending into portions of colorado. dozens of cities in colorado, also dozens of cities in utah reporting that they're not going to allow any fireworks. now, this is a view right around park city, utah. this comes from tom kelly. he's an ireporter. he says it's very dry, but this smoke is about 20 miles away from him home. still there is ash falling near his home. and they are not allowing any private or public fireworks.
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the deep south expecting some hit-or-miss thunderstorms. and folks going out to watch the fireworks in atlanta, georgia, also in washington, d.c., can't rule out, wolf, the chance of an isolated shower there. back to you. >> just what we don't need right now after what we've gone through these past few days. i see it's only 68 degrees in los angeles behind you. that's quite a difference than what it is out here on the east coast. thanks very much, karen maginnis. details emerge about a plane crash that killed hundreds. a new report shedding light on what might have caused an air france flight to go down. and almost everyone agrees the boxer, manny pacquiao, got robbed by the judges last month. but did that commit a crime? focus lolo, focus let's do this i am from baltimore south carolina... bloomington, california... austin, texas... we are all here to represent the country we love this is for everyone back home
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panic, chaos, people running for their lives trying to escape the concordia cruise ship after it struck rocks and turned on its side. that's what some of the survivors are sharing with us about the night the disaster hit and almost took their lives. our senior international correspondent, dan rivers, has been digging into why the ship capsized and why 32 people died.
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>> reporter: when the order to abandon ship was given, hector perez and sahim khan were at a . the crew member with access to the boat told passengers to calm down. >> as soon as he opened the door, everybody ran towards that emergency boat and pushed him out of the way. everybody was panicking. everybody was running for their own lives. a lot of them didn't realize they were going to let people jump into the boat without an actual seat. those that realized it, they jumped into the boat and they just stayed standing on the boat. it was way over 150 people limit. >> reporter: the boat carrying kahn and perez made it to the sea. but even then they were not
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safe. >> i look up and i see the emergency boat a go sideways one way. suddenly, it went this way again and it fell right on top of our boat. >> if our boat would have turned when we were evacuating when the second boat fell on us,we would have been dead. >> reporter: several lifeboats couldn't be lowered and with the ship listing, the problems of evacuating people multiplied. the alias family boarded a lifeboat but were forced to return to the ship when the lifeboat wouldn't launch. once back on board -- >> bam! >> screaming. >> the boat flips. >> it takes another 5/8 degree more roll to its side. >> reporter: one of the crew told investigators that some officers literally pushed passengers into the water. but the ananias family turned around and tried to climb across
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the ship with nothing to hold onto. >> the side of the ship is now the bottom of the ship. so you're literally walking on the side of the ship. >> reporter: the speed with which the concordia tilted first one way and then the other has alarmed maritime experts. this is the safety of life at sea rule book, the maritime safety bible if you like, issued by the international maritime authority here in london. it specify that is ships should remain stable with two watertight compartments flooded and they should be able to be evacuated within 30 minutes. but the loss of power, the flooding of the pumps and backup generators had turned the concordia into a helpless hull. as the water continued to rise, the ship tilted yet further, more than 60 degrees.
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>> and then i remember us all starting to pray and saying our good-byes. and i can remember thinking, oh, my gosh, we are going to die, let's just get it over with. >> reporter: by now it was nearly 1:00 in the morning. the ananias family and dozens of other passengers were still trying to climb a metal ladder to reach the outside of the ship. but it was still a mad scramble to escape. >> men pushing women aside, pushing children aside. >> i put my foot down and said, this is not going to happen. i'm not going to sit here and watch one other person jump in front of this mother and child to get his way up there. it wasn't going to happen. >> tonight's cnn presents the infinitive investigation into the sirnging of the costa concordia, why the ship came so close to shore, the lives lost and how the industry is work to prevent the next cruise ship disaster. that's at 8:00 p.m. eastern for
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our northern american viewers. also airing sunday on cnn international. the mystery of the deadly plane crash may be solved. some of the other top stories in the newsroom, lisa, what's going on? french agency aap says human mistakes and technical failures caused the deadly air france crash in 2009. the information comes from a french report that will be presented to the families of the victims tomorrow. we'll learn more details then. but the initial report concludes pilot error and malfunctioning speed sensors caused that crash. 228 people died when the flight crashed on its way from rio de janeiro, brazil, to paris. and the nevada attorney general says no crime was committed by the judges at a recent boxing match in las vegas. they called the highly anticipated fight for american boxer timothy bradley, although many who watched the fight thought manny pacquiao won. many thought the fight was
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rigged but no violation occurred. and roger federer is moving on at wimbledon. his 32nd trip to a grand slam semi finlt. the next match is guaranteed to be a good one. he'll play number one player novak jokejokavich. apparently william and kate were there sitting with andre agassi. and a connecticut man may have taken it too far. he's accused of having his 11-year-old daughter take a breathalyzer test for him. police were called because the man was reportedly drunk and the daughter told them she blew into the ignition breathize tore start the car. he pleaded not guilty but his children were taken into propecktive custody. who says having a baby prevents you from doing some things. okay, take a look here. check out this atlanta braves fan making, yes, an incredible catch while holding his baby with the other hand.
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it looks like even the braves' players are a little impressed. let's just hope the guy gets to keep the ball because it is certainly going to make for a great story to tell his child some day. the child seems not jostled a bit. she just seems like she's taking it all in. wolf? >> good thing the baby is okay. it could have been a disaster if he would have let go going for the ball. the ball costs $10. the baby is priceless. >> we have seen video of that, too. somebody calls into question the parent's priorities. go for the ball or the baby, but in that case, the baby looked to be safe the entire time. >> yes, thank you. here's a special fourth of july edition of hot shots in colorado springs. firefighters have been battling the waldo canyon fire and they raise a flag at the top of the mountain. in paris chefs put the finishing touches on an american flag dessert during a fourth of july party at the united states embassy. here in washington fireworks are on sale for customers wanting to add sparkle to their holiday. and in new york, patriotic
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fireworks made a big bang after the mets and phillies game that was last night. hot shots pictures coming in from around the world. to our international viewers, the news continues next right here on cnn. for the viewers in north america, we'll take you to a field of weeds. that's much more than an eye sore, that's gigantic tax break because, believe it or not, the federal government considers it a farm. we'll also take you inside a congressional race where the issues seem to be taking a backseat to name calling. d gives you a 50% annual bonus. and who doesn't want 50% more cash? ugh, the baby. huh! and then the baby bear said, "i want 50% more cash in my bed!" phhht! 50% more cash is good ri... what's that. ♪ you can spell. [ male announcer ] the capital one cash rewards card. the card for people who want 50% more cash. what's in your wallet? ha ha. ♪
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happening now, crisis in west virginia. storm victims go for days without food. mitt romney contradicts his own campaign. and the loophole that lets corporations pay pennies for property tax. i'm wolf blitzer. your in "the situation room." i'm really concerned about a
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situation happening here in the united states. under normal circumstances there's no reason why anyone in the country should go hungry despite all our economic problems, we are still a wealthy country with enormous food resources. having said that, the situation is by no means normal in west virginia because of the severe weather disaster of last friday night. days later thousands of west virginians still remain without power. and many of them right now have no food. the charleston/west virginia "daily" reports 1,000 people in an apartment build having had no food for two days and many people said they didn't have anything to eat even longer. so how can this be possible in the united states of america? i know that president obama declared an emergency exists in west virginia last saturday. the federal emergency management agency or fema deployed assistance teams to the state including water, generators and
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100,000 meals. the department of human health and services sent in personnel and the governor says he's grateful to fema and other government agencies, but a lot of people in his state remain hung write. >> food is at a shortage right now, but we have made a lot of progress since friday night when the storm hit. >> the storm compounded an already desperate situation, poverty. the same kind of poverty with a record 46 million americans requiring food stamps simply to survive. west virginians are the fourth poorest in the country and the government is struggling to find a way to tell those residents, especially the rural areas, where they can go for help. these challenges should not be insurmountable. our government needs to find a way to give the storm victims of west virginia some relief and quickly. we're going to go much deeper into this story. a lot more is coming up this hour. let's go to kate baldwin with other important stories.
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>> we'll stay on the story right now. as of this morning, west virginia's governor sent 300,000 customers were without power in his state. our brian todd is in west virginia right now. hey, brian, what are you seeing there? >> reporter: hey. we are seeing people scrambling to get food and to get an official scrambling to get some food stuff and nonperishables to shelters and other places like that to connect people who need wit the people who don't have it and can get it to them. it's ban struggle on how this developed. first you had the storms on friday night. the unyielding heat wave that unfolded and the power outages. they really triggered the food crisis because grocery stores got knocked offline and had to dump spoiled food. there's been mass dumpings of spoiled food all over the state. and then the two main food banks in this state, one in the central part and one in the southern part, basically got depleted of nonperishable food
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as of yesterday. the governor's office, fema and others are coordinating this massive effort to tell people where to go to get food and then trying to get them to those places, maybe offer transportation or advice on how to get there. it's a logistical nightmare. they are just catching up with it now and saying they are making great progress. we caught up with one person in a shelter, yolanda wilcox, for the better part of three days she and her family were struggling to find food and went without food for a good part of it. here's what she had to say. >> it's hard. you are used to being independent and you get your food when you need it, when you want it. but right now we are not able to do that. so it's hard but yet still we thank god that it is a place that we can come and get food. >> reporter: so local charities as well as the red cross and fema are providing to combine
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hundreds of thousands of meals to people like yolanda who are in need. they are tracking in tractor-trailers full of water for people in these areas. one of the problems, kate, is that it's been hard to get word to people in these remote areas. many, many people who were hardest hit live in very remote areas. and just to get word to them on how to get food has been very difficult. >> that's an excellent point. a very tough fourth of july for many. you are doing great work out there, though. thank you very much, brian todd. turning overseas now, new calls to exhume the body of yassir arafat. he died after a suspicious sickness in 2004. they detect the poisonous substance in his toothbrush and clothing. much more on that to come. we are still over three weeks away from the opening of the summer olympics, but a lot of london residents are coming
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down with a bit of a case of the security jitters. that's especially true for folks getting scary new neighbors, anti-aircraft missiles in case terrorists attack from the sky. here's to our own senior national corp spon dentd nick robinson with more. >> reporter: kate, there's no doubt this comes as an unwelcomed shock to some of the residents living in the apartment buildings close to where the missile systems will be positioned. the government is saying however that even if the residents bring legal action they will fight it in the courts. the ministry of defense is saying it is absolutely confident it will win the case. six missile defenses placed close to olympic park. two of them on apartment buildings. the british secretary of state has said that britain has a responsibility to make the olympic games safe. and that's why they have positioned the missile systems where they are putting them. the missiles themselves fly at three times the speed of sound and have a range of 3 1/2 miles
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designed to take down slow, low-flying aircraft. and what the government is saying is this is part of the range of defense mechanisms against the would-be terrorist attack. they have fast jets just outside of london they can scramble if there's a bigger threat coming in from the air, if you will, towards the olympic park. they have 800 marines stationed on a ship on the river just miles away. special forces have been trailing in helicopters to be deployed to olympic park. 7,000 soldiers and 12,500 police in the surrounding area as well. this is what the government says, this is what they are going to do to make the olympics safe. it does seem unfortunately for the residents, even despite their protests, these missile defense systems are going to go in place and they are going to stay is there throughout the duration of the olympics, kate. >> nick robinson in london.
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thank you so much. the opening day of the summer games to remind you is july 27th. that means security has to be paramount when all eyes of the world will be on the city. >> they should be. with the price tag they are paying for security, it's going to be enormous. better to be safe than sorry. >> that's why we say it. other news we are following, mitt romney and one of his top advisers are not on the same page when it comes to the health care reform ruling by the u.s. supreme court. in fact, romney directly contradicted that adviser earlier in the day. cnn's dana bash spoke to romney. she's in new hampshire and is joining us with details. tell our viewers what's going on, dana. >> reporter: damage control. those are really the best two words to describe what happened. and the fact is that mitt romney chose today, a day where people are probably more focused on barbecues and fireworks than politics to try to clear up his message on a dicy issue for them, and that's whether or not a health insurance mandate is a tax. at first the ever disciplined mitt romney refused to answer.
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earlier romney taped and interview with cbs to give a carefully crafted response to authority question for him, whether the health insurance mandate is a tax. >> i told you, it is what it is. take a look at it. >> reporter: but finally he gave cnn the news. >> the supreme court is the final word, right? they said it was a tax, didn't they? it's a tax, that's what i say it is. >> reporter: the main reason the already cautious romney was especially careful here is because the gop message on the mandates is already muddled. earlier this week a top romney adviser said the candidate didn't think the insurance mandate was a tax but rather a menlty. penalty. what the democrats call it. >> the governor believes what we put in place is a penalty and he disagrees with the court's ruling that the mandate was a tax. >> reporter: that infather rateuated republicans in
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washington over the president's biggest tax in history. >> i think that people see the president as being a strong leader standing up for his principles and moving forward. we'll let mitt romney argue with himself. >> reporter: romney's news came during a brief bit of independence day action in an otherwise quiet day for his family at their new hampshire vacation home. here comes mitt romney down the parade route. this is the exact scene you see from politicians all over the country on july fourth, but there's nothing more important than the republican presidential candidate on july fourth before election day. it's very clear watching mitt romney work this crowd. >> happy fourth of july, guys. how are you? >> reporter: but the large romney family, the 30 grandchildren hardly had the parade route to themselves. team obama was there in full force since new hampshire's four electoral votes are critical for the president's prospects for
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re-election. republicans around the country are clearly hoping that the supreme court helped their case against the president, especially in states like new hampshire, which is very tax adverse and other states around the country, that is why the presidential candidate on the republican side tried to make it seem he's on the same page as fellow republicans. but there's one important follow-up question he was asked by qubs in the interview today, and that is what about the mandate he signed into law in massachusetts? is that a tax? in the past he said it is not. the way he answered it is again by citing the majority of the supreme court saying chief justice roberts says when it comes to states they can mandate it without having to call it a tax to make it constitutional. >> fascinating political development. thank you, dana, for that. a giant loophole, a loophole that allows property owner and corporations to pay just pennies in taxes on their land.
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we exposed fake farms coming up. [ manager 1 ] out here in the winds, i have to know the weather patterns. i upgraded to the new sprint direct connect. so i can get three times the coverage. [ chirp ] [ manager 2 ] it's like working in a giant sandbox with all these huge toys. and with the fastest push-to-talk... i can keep track of them all. [ chirp ] [ chirp ] [ male announcer ] upgrade to the new "done." with access to the fastest push-to-talk and three times the coverage. now when you buy one kyocera duracore rugged phone, for $49.99, you'll get four free. visit a sprint store, or call 855-878-4biz. [ chirp ] thor's couture gets the most rewards of any small business credit card. your boa! [ garth ] thor's small business earns double miles on every purchase, every day! ahh, the new fabrics, put it on my spark card.
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we have tough economic times and in cities are losing out on millions and millions of dollars because of property taxes and because of an unbelievable loophole. fake farms. cnn regulation correspondent lizzie o' leary explains. >> reporter: what does it look like to you? >> it looks like an empty weedy field. >> reporter: but according to the state of kansas, it's not a weed farm it's a farm. even in a subdivision filled with swing sets, it can be taxed as agricultural. that means whoever owns it pays much lower property taxes. the bill on this lot? 38 cents a year.
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once meant to give farmsers a break from encroaching suburbs, the law has balk become a loophole exposed by giant corporations. >> it's just sad. it's not fair, it's just not fair. >> reporter: calvin hayden is a johnson county commissioner saying the tax breaks are making tough economic times even worse. where would that money go? >> it would go to the taxpayers, it would go to fire departments, it would go to police departments, it would go to schools. i mean, we've got so many taxing entities, it would go everywhere. >> reporter: it would also go to cash-strapped libraries cutting hours, to county government eliminating 400 jobs, to schools slashing budgets in special ed and janitors. >> reporter: paul welcome has been the county appraise sore for 20 years. he's gone to court over properties like this in the past and lost. the result, just about any vacant ground can be taxed as agricultural. this land that we are on --
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>> right. >> reporter: would be taxed what? $500? $500 to $600? >> that would be exactly right. you would be paying $500 for every year this ground is not developed. >> reporter: right now nay are paying about a dollar? >> right now they are paying about a dollar. >> reporter: because this is on it? >> because this is there and this is there. >> reporter: come on. >> it's there. >> reporter: some recipients stretch the definition of farmer. in florida land owners can use behives to get a tax break. and in texas, they can cut some brush, feed and count the deer to qualify. but here in kansas, just about all you need is a strip of grass. so what's going to happen to this grass? >> i don't know. i didn't say you had to harvest it. >> reporter: so i can toss some seeds out and we are cool. >> we are cool. >> reporter: it is not just
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builders taking advantage of the law. this 28-acre stretch of land was supposed to be walmart, but now it is listed as farming and ranching to land. to hold on it to, the $200 billion company paid $40 last year in property taxes. walmart told cnn they paid $50 million in kansas taxes overall and they are following the current law on the books. >> i think it is an excellent law, i really do. >> reporter: doug kanup used to be a local mayor. he says lowering property taxes is one of the things that kept him afloat during the housing crisis. if you had ground out there as a developer, what would you do? >> the people i talk to, every single one of them says, of course i would do it. >> reporter: they do it because it is legal. i went to the legislature in topeka to ask why they have not closed the loophole. one of the politicians we talked to said les donovan used the law
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himself. he rented out 18 acres to grow hay. you believe you're paying your fair share on it? >> i was paying my legal share, let's put it that way. >> reporter: his taxes dropped from $120 to $8. he said the law should change, eventually, but that someone else should do it. >> i'm not judging whether that's a good law or a bad law. i'm just telling you the way it is. >> but you are in the legislature. i mean, it is sort of your job to judge whether something is a good law or bad law. you could change it. >> well, you got to understand, you have to look back, where did kansas come from? what is kansas many, many years ago on the legislature passing laws and doing that. it was basically an agricultural state? >> reporter: such an agricultural state that changing any farm law could be political poison leaving other taxpayers to foot the bill. this is a farm state. we talked to other members of the legislature and no one was willing to go ahead and push to
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change this law, even though they said we know it may be costing some of our taxpayers money. >> good report. do we know how much money the states are losing because of this? >> it is very hard to quantify overall. we know that laws like this exist in almost every state. a lot of reporting has gone into looking at that. in new jersey the press did some good work and found that $82 million lost a year when they did it in 2010. when you look at laws in texas, more than a billion dollars that would have gone to school funding. so it's sort of a patchwork. no overall number, but certainly if you're talking about a local community, it's a lot. johnson county, kansas, it's costing them millions. >> if they were raising food or corn or anything like that, that's fine. just weeds? >> as they pointed out, they playing by the rules set for them right now. that's right. lizzie, fabulous work, thank you so much. fresh pictures just in from the white house. in just a minute you'll get a sneak preview of what's
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happening through tonight. stay with us. you're in "the situation room." let's do this i am from baltimore south carolina... bloomington, california... austin, texas... we are all here to represent the country we love this is for everyone back home it's go time. across america, we're all committed to team usa.
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a nice shot of the white
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house. kate has a check of what's going on at the white house and way beyond. >> a lot going on today, albeit the fourth of july, hope your enjoying it. i want to start with national security. we have our hands on an alarming number of cyber attacks on the nation's power grids, water filtration systems and a nuclear facility. last year 198 incidents were serious enough to send emergency response teams up from a mere nine in 2009. and at the white house today, president obama got to do one of his favorite things. listen to what he said while residing over this morning's white house ceremony to naturalize active duty members of the military. >> what a perfect way to celebrate america's birthday. the world's oldest democracy with some of our newest citizens. i have to tell you just personally this is one of my favorite things to do. >> tomorrow the president will be in ohio to begin a campaign
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bus tour. tonight the president's hosting a fourth of july picnic and gala on the south lawn of the white house to honor members of the military and their families. country star brad paisley is the featured performer and anyone at the white house automatically has great sits for washington's beloved fireworks. also in washington today, the national archives kept alive the annual tradition of letting people sign their names to a copy of the declaration of independence. the declaration also was read aloud. among this year's readers were decentury dantds of the original signers. that's an awesome thing. >> i love that kind of stuff, especially on the fourth of july. >> i was not one of the signers. >> no. she lost both legs in iraq. he swept into congress with tea party support, and now they are locked in a bitter campaign that's getting ugly. at 43 past the hour, iran threatens to launch missiles at u.s. bases. you'll find out where. all that and more coming up.
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always there for you. happening now, iran threatens to launch missiles at a military base in the middle east. mitt romney contradicts his top advisers saying the health care reform mandate is a tax. and a heated battle for the senate turns ugly.
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i'm wolf blitzer. you're in "the situation room." this video has a lot of people talking right now. an illinois congressman speaking in a town hall meeting seemed to suggest his challenger isn't a, quote, true hero because she talks too much about her own military service. kate baldoun is watching this for us. this story generated a lot of buzz. >> a lot of people talking about this, wolf. congressman joe walsh clarified what he meant by the remarks. we'll talk to him live in a moment, but that video sure isn't going away. take a look. here's the town hall video that's created an uproar around republican congressman joe walsh. >> that's what's so noble about our heroes. >> reporter: walsh suggesting over the weekend his democratic challenger talks too much about her military service. >> now i voted against a woman who, my god, that's all she talks about.
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our true heroes, the men and women who served us, that's the last thing in the world they talk about. >> reporter: the woman walsh is attacking, tammy duckworth, a veteran who lost both legs in a 2004 helicopter accident while serving in iraq. just yesterday walsh released a statement clarifying he does think duckworth is a hero but he doesn't quite apologize. adding, unlike most veterans i have had the honor to meet since my election to congress, who rarely if ever talk about their service or the combat they have seen, that's darn near all tammy duckworth talks about. now duckworth is more than happy to fight back. >> he's just trying to shift the focus away from the fact he's done nothing in his two years in congress other than be an extremist loud mouth for the tea party. >> reporter: this doesn't duckworth's first run for congress despite support from then senator obama and high-profile veterans like senator john kerry, duckworth lost a house run in 2006. >> look, this isn't -- --
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>> walsh has earned a reputation for making controversial remarks during his two years in office. >> one of the things that's going on in the eighth congressional district race is that the duckworth campaign and her democratic allies are taping everything that joe walsh says. now this is standard operating procedure in most campaigns nowadays anyway, but it's especially so since joe walsh speaks very candidly and often provocatively. >> reporter: in may he said democrats strive to make minorities dependent on the government. >> they want hispanics to be dependent on government, just like they want americans to be dependent on government. that's their game. >> reporter: walsh also took heat back in september for boykotding the president's big jobs speech before congress. right here in "the situation room" we asked the congressman why he wontd show up. >> we are beyond speeches. respectfully, it seems all this president does is try to give a
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good speech. i don't want to be a pawn in that. >> keep in mind, they are fighting for a new seat representing the northwest suburbs of chicago creating as part of the redistributing efforts really taking place nationwide. and right now, wolf, the nonpartisan cook political report, i spoke to them today. they called this besurist democratic pickups across the country. >> that tammy duckworth will beat joe walsh. >> that's what they predict. >> joe walsh is joining us. thank you very much for coming in. do you regret what you said about your opponent who lost two legs fighting for the united states in iraq, that she's not n your words, a true hero? >> no, not at all, wolf. it's good to be with you, happy fourth. i have called tammy duckworth a hero hundreds of times. any man and woman, and i have been on the record, any man or woman who served this country is a hero. i have said that repeatedly.
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i don't know what the story is here. i think the other side is trying to manufacture a story. let's be honest, everywhere i go tammy duckworth's campaign is. i'm out all the time. i have had more town halls. tammy duckworth doesn't get out. all she does is film me in a couple liberal blogs checked it out and spread it around. i don't see at all what the story is here. >> let me just -- let me just clarify, congressman, do you believe tammy duckworth is a true hero. >> oh, my gosh, yes! and i have said that repeatedly. she is a hero. and that demands our respect. but it doesn't demand our vote. and i don't find it -- look, all she does, guys, is talk about her service. voters in this district want to
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have an inkling of where she stands on the issues, and she never directly getted gets in front of people. rahm emanuel drew this district for her. she's their candidate and they are keeping her away from voters. and i want to know where she stands on issues. i support her service, but my god, the voters want to know if she has any thought on the issues. >> congressman, you are a smart man and have been in politics, you're finishing two years in congress now, you had to have known in questioning something that is beloved by so many americans, military service, that this was a touchy subject, a risk. was that a mistake because you are in a tough re-election battle here? >> i'll agree with you there. i'm in a tough re-election battle because the democrats drew a district to duckworth. there's no way i would take this challenge on, but my god, i said that before. understand the concept, guys, i
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am always out there speaking in front of voters. and i'm always being taped. i know that. and i can see what they are trying to do here, to get me to be silent. look, i salute her service and continue to salute her service, but if that's all she runs on, voters are going to find that offensive. i've had too many veterans come up to me quietly over the last two or three months and say, i wish she would quick talking about that. veterans don't, you guys know, veterans don't talk about their service. they are so private about it. >> a lot of veterans do talk about their service. they are very proud of their military service. and i'm sure tammy duckworth is very proud of what she's accomplished. >> wolf, they don't throw it in your face. you knew john mccain. you know veterans, they don't throw it in your face. and they at least can move beyond that and tell you why they want to be a congressman or woman.
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and i can tell you there's a lot of frustration in the district because tammy duckworth won't do that. >> we have invited tammy duckworth to join us in "the situation room." she couldn't on the fourth of july, but she has an invitation and we'll talk about the issues. i'm glad we did clarify, congressman walsh. your point what you are saying right now, flatly, you do believe tammy duckworth. you disagree with her on a lot of issues, but you do believe what she did in iraq as a military personnel, member of the u.s. military, she is, in fact, a true hero. >> absolutely, wolf, thank you. absolutely. >> congressman walsh, thank you very much for coming in. >> thank you. >> we got our clarification there. a new threat by iran. it says it will target u.s. bases all across the middle east with missiles. that story is coming up at 43 past the hour. up next, the candidate contradicts one of his top adviser. is this a sign of trouble inside the romney campaign or not?
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taking a look at live pictures of the u.s. capital. you can see all the colors on the steps. that's all the people gathering at the nation's capital to get ready for the big celebration on the washington mall. quite a fireworks show. >> i love this night in washington, d.c. it will be on television so people can see it. mitt romney is speaking out on the supreme court health care decision. an adviser for romney talked about this with donna brazil and republican stat gist rich galan. mitt romney was up in new hampshire walking around and concluding to our own dana bash. and he clearly disagrees with eric, one of his top strategic advisers. who only monday said that the mandate was not a tax, it was a penalty, not a tax. he specifically said that. but listen to mitt romney today. >> the supreme court is the sfinl word, right?
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isn't it the highest court in the land? they said it was a tax, didn't they? so it's a tax. >> you got that. he says, it is a tax now that the supreme court has ruled. rich, let me start with you, what's going on? between monday and wednesday there's been a change. >> they are finally figuring it out. here's what it is. the supreme court or the chief justice ruled that the mandate, the penalty could not be a penalty on the mandate because of the commerce clause, that it was illegal extension of the congress clause. so the only thing it could be was a tax. >> which is constitutional. congress has the right to write taxes. >> i got that, but states cannot write the commerce clause. it can be in massachusetts and be perfectly legal because it is not in violation of anything. it is like quantum physics, where light can be a point, a particle or a wave. that's the same thing with this. >> let's got get into quantum --
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who was right, eric on monday where he said -- >> eric is not running for anything. who cares? that doesn't make any difference. mitt romney has it right. as the governor of a state, he doesn't have to deal with the commerce clause. it was a tax. so the romney campaign gets to say, see, this is the largest tax -- not the largest, but in the top ten tax increases in history. >> having said that, the obama administration continues to refuse to acknowledge what the supreme court has ruled and saved obama care, if you will, but saying it's a tax and constitutional. why does the obama administration continue to refuse to say what mitt romney said today with what the supreme court said. >> first of all, let's make it clear, mitt romney in 2006 after he signed the health care law in massachusetts called this provision a penalty. so -- and mitt romney is on record in supporting the individual responsibility mandate as a penalty. that is the same provision
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pretty much plagiarized from the massachusetts law that became part of their affordable care act. so it is a penalty, wolf, that individuals who opt not paying health insurance, buying health insurance, will have to pay, not as part of the taxes, but as part of a penalty for not purchasing. they used the sweeping clause that congress in article i that congress has under the taxing authority to consider it a penalty because the irs -- >> donna, it's a penalty but it's also a tax. the solicitor general argued before the supreme court it was a tax. the irs will administer it. it will be due on april 15th as a tax. that's what they do. that's a tax. but you guys are reluctant to acknowledge -- why not just say it's a penalty and a tax. >> i don't have a problem with the similar antics of it, but i have a problem with romney
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contradicting his senior adviser, who is an important senior adviser, but he's contradicting himself in things he said before about the important part of the bill. it is not the largest tax increase in america. >> i said it is in the top ten. but that's what i was saying. >> since 1950. >> since yesterday afternoon. >> does this show there's a problem among the senior staff of the romney campaign as rupert murder murdoch suggests they need better people there. one statement saying something on monday, a different statement on wednesday. it could be a problem here. >> wait until we see the friday unemployment numbers when everybody will forget about this. >> the problem is not the senior staff. the problem is the candidate who is not consistent on these issues. he hasn't been consistent from a governor to running for president and is not consistent. >> donna brazil and rich galon. the advisers of mitt romney got
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him this far through all the primaries and caucuses. they pretty good. >> we'll see. i don't forsee any changes, but i can be wrong. i want to get us caught up on a couple stories coming into "the situation room" right now. mexico's election announced 54% from the ballot boxes from this weekend's presidential election will be opened and recounted. he was supposed to return the institutional party to power after a dozen years in political exile, but supporters of andres manuel lopez oppose voting irregularities. also, the australian navy is taking 162 people rescued from a distressed ship to a remote christmas island. officials won't say whether the passengers are seeking asylum, a controversial issue in australia. other news we are following, tension in the region already high, but now iran is taking it up another notch threatening to launch missiles at u.s. military bases in the middle east.
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cnn foreign affairs correspondent jill daugherty is watching this. jill, what are you picking up? >> wolf, iran issued this threat as it was holding war games. so the question is, is it bluster or is it real? on edge that israel may strike its nuclear program, iran is unleashing a threat of its own. within minutes it says it would fire missiles at israel and destroy u.s. military bases i across the middle east. in countries like bahrain, kuwait, qatar and the united arab emirates. bases with tens of thousands of american troops. all the bases are within the reach of our missiles. meantime, the iraqi commander is quoted as saying, the occupied lands of israel are good targets for us as well. to drive that point home, iranian forces are extending the so-called great profit seven missile exercises boasting they have successfully tested a
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missile capable of hitting israel. >> this is, in general, all bluff and nonsense. >> reporter: defenseman anthony corden says they have a limited range of long-range missile that is are not reliable. and the u.s. and gulf allies have increasingly accurate defense missile systems, but the state department is not blushing or brushing off iran's missile development activities. as international sanctions on iran tighten, tehran has threateninged to block the strait of hormuz, a vital chokehold for the world's oil. but the u.s. has been beefing up its forces in the region. in spite of iran's chess thumping, anthony corden says it is playing a weak hand. >> to try to convince the iranian people that iran is much stronger, that it doesn't have
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to compromise, that it can ride out the sanctions -- >> meanwhile, the on-again, off-again talks with iran about the nuclear program are sputtering but still alive. some experts believe all the talk about missiles is a way, perhaps, of trying to gain greater leverage at those talks. wolf? >> not very upbeat about the future of those talks, but let's hope for the best. jill, thanks very much. that's a tense situation over there. >> of course it is. up next, wolf will be taking your questions about the news. you don't want to miss this, mr. wolf. stay with us. the weher patterns. i upgraded to the new sprint direct connect. so i can get three times the coverage. [ chirp ] [ manager 2 ] it's like working in a giant sandbox with all these huge toys. and with the fastest push-to-talk... i can keep track of them all. [ chirp ] [ chirp ] [ male announcer ] upgrade to the new "done." with access to the fastest push-to-talk and three times the coverage. now when you buy one kyocera duracore rugged phone, for $49.99, you'll get four free.
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if you met wolf blitzer in person, what would you ask him? well, now is your chance. wolf, we've been soliciting questions on this. and we've been kind of compiling them. here's our first one from someone on facebook, mr. wolf, since most political analysts are saying neither presidential candidate can fix the economy, what will be the determining factor for becoming president? >> it will be fixing the economy. that will be the determining factor. who can better fix the economy? that question will be posed to the american people and they
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will make the decision. do you like what you've seen so far from the president of the united states? do you think he can continue to move in the right direction? or do you think mitt romney has a better option out there for fixing the economy? but unless there's a national security crisis, god forbid, an act of terror or a war or anything like that, the economy will be the determining issue in this election. and the american people -- it will be a referendum, do they like the way the president has dealt with it or do they think romney can do better? >> there's always talk about likability. is that an important factor? >> it is. but when all is said and done, they'd like someone if they think their pocketbooks and their kids' welfare, the economy will be stronger. the likability is important and i don't belittle that by any means. but the competence in dealing with these economic issues is going to be the key. >> when people are hurting, that's what they care about most. if you have more questions for wolf, please chime in.
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you see the ways to reach out to us on your screen. facebook, twitter, ireport, ask away. lots of good questions. >> @katebolduan. up next, frustrated subway rider used his camera to make some big changes. this is $100,000. we asked total strangers to watch it for us. thank you so much, i appreciate it, i'll be right back. they didn't take a dime. how much in fees does your bank take to watch your money ? if your bank takes more money than a stranger, you need an ally. ally bank. no nonsense. just people sense.
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go long. our video of the day is coming up next. this is new york state. we built the first railway, the first trade route to the west, the greatest empires. then, some said, we lost our edge. well today, there's a new new york state. one that's working to attract businesses and create jobs.
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a place where innovation meets determination... and businesses lead the world. the new new york works for business. find out how it can work for yours at thenewny.com. random acts of kindness in our video of the day. this was yesterday's nationals/giants game here in washington. watch this. a fan leans over and scoops up a foul ball. but this was the second one that he got of the game. so he hands it to a man sitting a few seats away. after a few minutes, that man starts looking around and spots
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a boy a couple of rows back and gives him a ball. and just look at that boy's face. that look is pretty priceless. >> he's a happy little guy. i was at that game last night. they won -- the nationals, my team, #natitude. washington has a great team now. we won again today over san francisco. >> here we go. >> very excited about this baseball team. >> i know you are. i'm trying to join in that excitement. >> i'm looking forward to the all-star game as well. a set of subway stairs is tripping up lots of new yorkers and generating some laughs in the process thanks to a new music video that's going viral and global. jeanne moos takes a closer look at embarrassing missteps seen around the world. >> reporter: it's hard not to stare when everyone's tripping on the subway stairs, or more precisely on one particular step.
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everybody loves to watch people trip, though. >> it's true, as long as it's not you. >> reporter: but it was him. this is filmmaker dean peterson's subway stop in sunset park, broom lynn. he videoed all these other people tripping because he kept tripping on that one step that was slightly higher than the others. and it definitely didn't stop him from editing together and putting to music a montage of trippers. 17 of them, shot over a total of about an hour. there's even a guy carrying a kid. >> i felt bad videoing some of the people. li luckily no one got hurt. >> reporter: the next thing you know, the video was on a trip of its own around the world on the internet. let's all laugh at people tripping on stairs was the headline out of australia. but you know who wasn't laughing? the metropolitan transportation
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authority, the day after the video went viral, repair guys were pacing the steps, at least this guy didn't trip. neither did this one. commuters were happy to see them. >> i almost bust my entire behind on that step. >> reporter: this can't be with the mta means when they say "have a nice trip." jeanne moos, cnn, new york. >> jeanne moos is great. >> jeanne moos is great. we are not -- i'm not laughing at someone falling. but you always do laugh when you see that kind of video. >> it's funny. that's what happens. they're getting ready for the fireworks right behind us here. >> we have to get out of here. >> you're going to be watching? >> i'm going to watch the fireworks. i think we're seeing more live pictures of the mall. a lot of people gathering, despite the hot temperatures. the heat, people still dealing with power outages. but people are ready to have some fun. >> to all of our viewers here in the united states and around the world, happy fourth of july. >> hap

tv
The Situation Room
CNN July 4, 2012 1:00pm-4:00pm PDT

News/Business. Wolf Blitzer. Traditional reporting and online resources update international news. New.

TOPIC FREQUENCY Us 44, U.s. 24, West Virginia 22, United States 19, America 16, Romney 13, Pakistan 13, Washington 13, Massachusetts 12, Tammy Duckworth 11, Yasser Arafat 10, Walsh 9, Iran 9, Obama 9, Joe Walsh 9, Colorado 9, Fema 8, Duckworth 8, London 8, Afghanistan 8
Network CNN
Duration 03:00:00
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